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The Department of Fisheries Western Australia is responsible for managing Western Australia’s fishery resources in a way that is consistent with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). Implementing these principles in a practical manner for fisheries has involved the development of a new management approach that is termed Ecosystems Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). This process incorporates social and economic factors into the management process along with biological and environmental considerations, at both the Fisheries and regional levels.

To date, minimal work has been done to address social and economic factors in accordance with EBFM. This is primarily due to a lack of understanding regarding the information needs, their relative importance and the methods that can be used to address these information needs. The aim of this paper is to identify methods that can be used to collect and analyse social and economic information for EBFM.

Accordingly, the current paper outlines a variety of evaluation methods that can be used to assess the social and economic benefits that are generated from fishery resources. The report first provides some background information regarding social and economic assessments before outlining the available alternatives for ‘economic evaluation methods’ and ‘social evaluation methods’. Examples of use in the literature are provided.

The economic evaluation methods define the focus of economic evaluations – that being the concept of net economic benefits. Market based evaluations (for resource use when prices are observable), non-market based evaluations (where resource use does not operate within a market) and other non-specific economic methods are then outlined.

The social evaluation methods section provides a broad background on social science approaches, their methods and limitations. Different approaches to social evaluations are then described, with a focus on three levels:

• Conceptual frameworks commonly used for social evaluation;

• Common types of information, and how they are typically collected and analysed; and

• Examples of the use of different data collection and analysis methods in previous social evaluation studies in the fisheries sector.

By using the methods outlined in the report, fishery researchers and managers can access the information needed to incorporate social and economic factors into fishery management decision making. However, to identify the social and economic information and/or evaluation needs and determine how such information will guide policy making, clearly defined and consistent policy objectives are required. Developing such social and economic policy objectives for the management of Western Australia’s fisheries should be a focus of future research.


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Department of Fisheries, WA




Aquaculture and Fisheries

Social and economic evaluation methods for fisheries: a review of the literature - Fisheries Research Contract Report No. 21, 2009